COVER STORY | SELLING GREEN
be guilty of misleading consumers
about their environmental endeavors,
a practice known as “greenwashing,”
there are certainly plenty of trustworthy brands who are making great
strides to become better stewards of
One company that seems to be leading the charge when it comes to green
policies is Starwood’s Element brand.
When it launched in 2008, Element
made history by becoming the first
major hotel brand to mandate that
all its properties pursue LEED certi-
fication. Today, Element’s portfolio
includes nine properties in the U.S.,
with an additional nine expected to
open in the next 2½ years.
make it easy for guests to incorporate
green living into their daily routines.
“What’s happening is that we are
using Element as a laboratory to test
our green initiatives, which are then
rolled out at other Starwood brands,”
said Brian McGuinness, senior vice
president of specialty select brands for
Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Element was one of the first
brands, for example, to test electrical
vehicle charging stations and energy
management systems (turning off the
power when rooms are not occupied)
using motion sensors.
Parent company Starwood is following suit and also looking at ways
to become better environmental
stewards. Earlier this year, Starwood
teamed up with Clean the World, an
organization dedicated to preventing
deaths caused by hygiene-related diseases. More than 500 Starwood hotels
across the U.S. are participating in a
program that collects, recycles and
sanitizes used products, reducing each
hotel’s waste output, while helping
fight the global spread of preventable
diseases. It is estimated that Starwood
will recycle some 1. 6 million pounds
of soap each year.
Starwood is just one example
in a long line of hoteliers making
wholesale changes to their policies
and procedures. As more hoteliers
continue to roll out sustainable
programs and consumer awareness
of green options increases, travel
agents may just find a new market
evolving before their eyes.
Travel Agents Do?
Some agents, including Bonnie Lee,
owner of Travel Leaders in Albertville,
Minn., are already embracing green
options in their trip-planning process.
STAR WOOD HO TELS AND RESOR TS WORLD WIDE; KIMP TON HO TELS & RESTAURAN TS; ROBBER T VAN BLOEMENDAAL